Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 18

HOW PROBIOTICS WORK

by Dr. Steve Lerner, Wanda Kreikemeier, Charles Jamison, Allen McDonald, Karl
Nestor, and Jill Havlin
INTRODUCTION
The digestive tracts of all animals, and people,
too, for that matter, are populated with hundreds
of billions to hundreds of trillions of bacteria.
This population of microorganisms is referred
to in common parlance as "gut flora" or by research scientists as "gut microbiota." These organisms are essential to the health, well-being,
and normal functionality of the animals that
they populate.
From time to time, there can be a disruption in
the harmonious balance of different species of
bacteria within the gut microbiota. This is typically the result of such things as an abrupt dietary change, use of high doses of antibiotics, or
the ingestion of pathogenic organisms. We are
all aware of the physical symptoms of an "upset" bowel. In production animal agriculture, digestive upsets and intestinal disease challenges
will likely result in economic losses.
One tool available to herdsman and other managers of production animals to address, and possibly even prevent, these periodic disruptions
and challenges are daily-fed probiotics. Effective probiotics will improve digestive function
and the stability of the gut.

18

Perspectives Magazine

GENERAL ATTRIBUTES
OF PROBIOTIC ORGANISMS
Probiotics are currently defined as "live micro-organisms, which when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health effect on the
host."1,2 The work group of experts from the
World Health Organization (WHO) and Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) who defined probiotics, also identified the set of characteristics of a bacterial strain that must be in
place in order for that strain to be considered as
a probiotic.1,2 First, the strain must reach its proposed site of action, usually the digestive tract
or gut, and therefore survive the physiological
stresses and conditions met following its ingestion: e.g., stomach acid/rumen fluid, intestinal
pH, and the presence of bile salts and digestive
enzymes. Secondly, it must maintain its physiological characteristics and remain stable during
the manufacturing and delivery processes. Lastly, it must prove to be beneficial with an absence
of risk for the host.
MODE OF ACTION
OF PROBIOTIC ORGANISMS
Effective probiotic organisms engage in many
active processes to stabilize the gastrointestinal

phoenixfeeds.net/magazine

tract and digestive function, which improves energy capture and nutrient utilization from feedstuffs and overall health. The interaction of probiotics, gut microbiota, and health was recently
reviewed. In brief, there are several modes of
action of probiotic bacteria (see Figure 1):
a. Some strains of probiotic bacteria can block
entry of pathogens into epithelial cells that line
the intestinal tract by providing a physical barrier; this is referred to as colonization resistance.
b. Probiotic bacteria can stimulate the release
of mucus from goblet cells that creates a mucus
barrier and prevents direct interaction between
pathogenic bacteria and the lining of the intestines.
c. Probiotics, through their communication
with epithelial cells, can help maintain the quality of the tight junctions that exist between these
cells, thereby, preventing leakage of materials
out of the intestinal tract and into the body.
d. Some probiotic strains have been shown
to produce antimicrobial factors that can kill
pathogenic organisms directly.
e. Still other strains stimulate the innate immune system by signaling to specialized dendritic cells, which then travel to gut-associated
lymph nodes and lead to the stimulation of the


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Perspectives - Winter 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Perspectives - Winter 2016

Contents
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Cover1
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Cover2
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Contents
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